TDSi Vlog #7 - The Importance of Customer Feedback
12th Feb 2017
Ticking all the Right Boxes in Product Development
When it comes to developing security products, there is a lot to think about. It may seem like the focus needs to be on a single goal, but in reality, it is far more of a juggling act! It’s all well and good developing something new and clever, but unless it specifically addresses real-world needs and requirements, it could very easily become a ‘white elephant’.
When it comes to developing new and enhanced products, nobody can advise you quite as well as the people that will use and install them in the real world – your customers and partners.
Asking the right questions
Although it seems perfectly obvious, it is easy to overlook the fundamental points when it comes to product development. In the case of security systems, we always start with the basics – how are people going to use these products and how will they interact with other users and systems in the business? If you can’t answer these simple points, any development will struggle to cater for actual commercial goals.
The next step is to decide exactly what solution the product needs to offer. Again, this seems very straightforward, but it is very easy to be side-tracked by what is possible, rather than what is actually required! This includes how to address the problems it needs to solve and how this will affect the people and systems that will interact with it.
You can see just how complicated this can become – try drawing a diagram of all the possible connotations for even the simplest of operations and you will soon see how much thought is required! We find that even a single idea can generate a complex (but necessary) product roadmap.
Needless to say, having agility in the development process is very desirable – if not essential, both for the manufacturer but also for the convenience of the people that use the end-product. Thankfully, this has been aided by a general focus by the security industry on software development, as opposed to releasing new hardware products for every incremental upgrade.
For example, our software development team can release new scheduled versions over regular and relatively short periods of time – as little as three weeks to be precise. In fact, this timescale has shaped the activities of our team – we run on three-week ‘sprints’ for each new version of software, ensuring the development is agile and timely to the needs of our customers.
Each sprint looks at a particular user case, which could be a new feature or a refinement of an existing one. At the same time, a software update release doesn’t have to just include one upgrade – at TDSi they could include six distinct but related enhancements at once, for example.
Giving the people what they want
Any manufacturer needs to plan its products properly and effectively, but if you haven’t had the right discussions with your customers in the first place, how do you truly know what direction you should be taking?!
At TDSi we always bear in mind that understanding the market and the needs of security users and operators is essential. This allows you to be more productive as a business, to keep the price point down and to stay fully competitive. The flipside is that this provides security consumers with the best possible choice and service for their actual needs at an affordable price – everyone is a winner!